Saturday, May 2, 2009

Some Fred Parker Collection Highlights

As I was photographing his collection last week, Fred Parker asked me: "What Maryland locality would you most like to visit?" Overwhelmed at first, I pulled a blank. With time since to reflect, however, and after photographing the above pictured calcite along with the wulfenite at left and the malachite at right, I'd probably name the Portland Cement Quarry in Carroll County. Fred shared with me that collector/dealer Andy Dietz of Ashland, Virginia collected the calcite beneath our title in a large pocket he and Andy worked there in 100 degree heat during July, 1997. The wulfenite is part of a one time find in the mid-1970's when the late George Brewer uncovered a rock bearing the only wulfenite ever reported from Maryland. And while quite a few specimens with acicular sprays of malachite have been collected at the Portland Quarry over the years, the piece pictured at right with chalcopyrite stands out.

Mineral specimens of historical significance especially appeal to Fred. The malachite at left from the long defunct Liberty Copper Mine in Frederick County, once graced the 19th century T-Bouve collection and later the late John Marshall's collection, from which Fred acquired it. With help from Photoshop, the label painted and scripted on the reverse side of this piece appears at the bottom right in the photograph. Ostrander and Price's 1940 Minerals of Maryland refers to the "haydenite"at right from Jones Falls in Baltimore City as "a variety of chabazite." It's eponymous with the early 19th Century mineralogist Horace Hayden, while Mindat lists "haydenite" as "a synonym of chabazite. If the specimen at right could be one of the earliest significant chabazite specimens in existence, Fred Parker's recent chabazite find at Hunting Hill Quarry in Montgomery County should rank among the latest. That occurrence lifts the number of different minerals its serpentinite-rodingite has yielded to 69. It and numerous other Hunting Hill specimens will be covered in a later Mineral Bliss post.

In Carroll County, not far from the Portland Cement Quarry in Union Bridge, the LaFarge (Redland Genstar) Quarry in Medford is another modern day classic Maryland locality. The turquoise colored aurichalcite pictured at left is one of the only specimens of aurichalcite collected in Maryland I've ever seen. Even more uncommon are the pink micro-crystals of lanthanite pictured at right. Mindat has yet to note an occurrence of this extremely rare neodymium mineral in the United States, even though the United States National Museum analyzed it approximately 25 years ago and confirmed the lanthanite identification. Collected at Medford in 1970 in a single rock, the 10x photograph at right shows micro-crystals from one of the seven pieces---all that exist--- into which the rock was broken. More plentiful at Medford are lavender calcite crystals such as pictured beneath the aurcichalcite. I also found a crystal like this a couple years ago, though it was nowhere near as appealing.

Fred Parker's Maryland collection also includes gold from Carroll County. Numerous papers have been written about the gold mined during past centuries in Montgomery County. Occurrences in Carroll County, however, are practically unknown. The gold pictured at left was collected at the Maryland Gold Mine in Montgomery County. The specimen at right, from near Sykesville in Carroll County, was self-collected by Fred Parker.

And finally, anyone who knows Fred Parker's mineralogical background could likely have a querie at this point: "Why not more about Hunting Hill?" Not only did Fred author what is probably the most comprehensive and up to date article about the minerals of this quarry (Mineralogical Record, September, 2005), his collection includes many of the most diverse, and "best of species ever found there" assortment of Hunting Hill material in existence. Mineral Bliss looks forward to "scratching the surface" on some of the most intriguing of these pieces in a later post.

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